Jesus and Paul: Nondual Teachers
Monday, August 22, 2016
Simone Weil and others have said that the very nature of spiritual truth is that it is paradoxical. Christianity should have known this. Our very template for God is the Trinity: Three Persons in One God. We believe Jesus is fully human and fully divine at the same time. And Catholics believe that Mary is virgin and mother at the same time and that the Eucharist is simultaneously bread and Jesus. All of these are seeming contradictions. They don’t make sense to the logical, dualistic, either/or mind. These beliefs are only understood by the nondual, both/and mind and at the level of soul. The church has taught people doctrines, but has not always taught the proper mind with which to understand them. Thus the high degree of atheism, agnosticism, and “former” Catholics and Christians.
Let me give you some of Jesus’ and Paul’s paradoxical teachings that at first seem like contradictions, but when you hold them both together, when you live inside of them, “the third something” emerges. These are truths that can only be known at the level of inner experience. They cannot be controlled at the level of the head. When we open ourselves to paradox and mystery, we can finally be transformed at the deepest levels. Here are just a few of Jesus’ and Paul’s seemingly contradictory statements:
Finding is losing; losing is finding (Luke 17:33).
The poor are rich (Matthew 5:3); the rich are very poor (Mark 10:17-25).
Hunger is satisfaction (Matthew 5:6); satisfaction is emptiness (Luke 12:16-21).
Weeping is bliss; bliss is weeping (Matthew 5:4).
The wise and learned do not understand; mere babes do (Matthew 11:25).
Folly is wisdom; the wise are ignorant (1 Corinthians 1:18-27).
Weakness is strength; strength is weakness (1 Corinthians 1:18-27; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 13:9).
Hold these paradoxes in silence and your lived experience. Let them teach you true wisdom and transform you. Holy people live inside of a very creative tension that is held together by grace and compassion, never by logic alone.
Gateway to Silence:
Welcome what is.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, A New Way of Seeing . . . A New Way of Being: Jesus and Paul (CAC: 2007), discs 1 and 2 (CD, MP3 download); and
Holding the Tension (an unpublished talk in Houston, Texas: 2007).